So there was an election. I’m sure there’s not a person on the internet who’s unaware of that. Even in Pyongyang, I’m sure they’re aware that a reality television magnate and recidivist failed businessman now has the opportunity to run a country into the ground too. He’s a big fish and like a big fish, has an alarmingly short memory. Also he constantly shits over everything. It’s a strange time to live in this post truth society where people are driven not my fact, but by emotion. That’s not quite it. People are ideologically entrenched. We’ll follow narratives that reinforce our own held beliefs. It’s not like this is a new phenomenon, but the echo chambers of our online lives are more expansive and resonant than they ever were.
Things are divisive in a way that’s impossible to ignore, because the gap between ourselves and others has become the focal point. Whenever we stand up for something we believe in and preach to the converted, we’re treated to a warming chorus of YAAAAS KWEEN and whatever meme is currently the utmost lit. Pointing out how the idiocy of the other side shines through, how monstrous and inhumane their beliefs are engenders others to us. Because it tells others we’re not like that, we wouldn’t think like that. Fuck those guys. As our lives are increasingly spent online, that echo chamber is overlaid on top of the society we see when we’re not plugged in. Much as we see ourselves as open minded, open hearted beams of light, we’ve become oppositional in our very core. What we’re not has become almost as important as what we are.
At this point I’m assuming most of you are expecting me to pull off my face, Mission Impossible style, and pronounce myself an Alt-Righter. Nope. I’m not Alt-anything. I used to be into Alt-rock, but then the moniker of “indie” came along as an all encompassing non-genre. I used to be lots of things. That’s a fact. I used to sling rape jokes and edgelord like I hoped there was no tomorrow. I even wore a fedora to a date once. Rightfully, she gave me no follow-up. I’m 99% sure I would’ve been the first to non-ironically #notallmen if I didn’t deem myself too cool to hashtag. I said and thought a lot of shitty, regressive things. Some of it was to try and look cool, a lot more of it was because I saw myself as maligned by society. I wasn’t getting the things I wanted, I felt neglected and disillusioned. Was I? Not at all, but I felt that way and gravitated towards views that reinforced how I felt.
You’ll notice that was all in past tense. I’ve changed. A lot. However, the only thing I’m certain of now is that I’ve still got a lot of room to improve. I was fortunate to be surrounded by better, wiser, more compassionate people. The fact that I can use past tense at all is testament to those people fostering understanding instead of straight up dumping me. If I’d been that person these days, I’m sure my ideological evolutionary path would’ve driven me in the same direction instead of diverting. I’d seek out opinions similar to my own. Furthermore, those compassionate people who helped me see the error of my views would likely have given up and cut me out of their social circle.
Times like this it’s vital that we listen and empathise. That empathy leads to gentle education instead of forceful opposition. I know how rich that sounds coming from a straight white cis dude. I know how much harder this is for systematically oppressed parties. How shitty “I know you’ve been struggling, the answer is to dig deep and struggle even more” sounds and is. I understand that. I wouldn’t expect this from those parties, but deep down I feel like that’s what it’s gonna take. Honestly, the bulk of the work needs to come from people like me. People who may be emotionally affected by the clusterfuck that the world has become, but aren’t persecuted on a daily basis. If we tell people they’re fuckfaces for supporting a Nazi, they’re gonna fortify and tell us to go fuck ourselves back. If we ask them why they do (without blaming), then offer our own perspective (once again without blaming), we may gain more ground. The first step of persuasion is to get the opposition on your side, how are we gonna do that if we start by putting up a wall. If we do that, how much better are we than them?
I’ve got a lot more thoughts on this right now than I do time to share them, but one parting thought. People can be a lot of work. I know I certainly was. One thing they aren’t is out of reach. I wasn’t.